Randolph Howard, 52, of 224-12 133rd Ave., was recently indicted by the Queens district attorney on nine counts of criminal trespass and one count of first-degree burglary, all stemming from incidents that occurred on 224th and 225th streets between Merrick Boulevard and 133rd Avenue in Laurelton.A spokeswoman for Queens District Attorney Richard Brown said Howard is alleged to have terrorized the neighborhood for close to 10 years.The peeping Tom, though, proved elusive, often hurdling fences and vanishing through backyards when confronted, neighbors said.But then on Sept. 7, Howard was arrested after being chased and detained by a 225th Street resident who alledgedly spotted him in his backyard.According to court documents, Howard was convicted of burglary and intent to commit rape 25 years ago in California. He is currently free on $25,000 bail and is expected to be arraigned in coming weeks on the trespass and burglary counts, according to the DA's spokeswoman, who said the next scheduled court date is Jan. 17. Howard worked for United Parcel Service for 17 years, the spokeswoman said, but was recently fired.The felony burglary charge against Howard carries a maximum sentence of 25 years in prison and stems from an incident early on Aug. 14, when Howard was allegedly seen inside the 225th Street home of Linda Washington, holding a towel outside her 17-year-old daughter's bedroom."He [Howard] appeared to be preparing to place it [the towel] over her head," the DA's spokeswoman said.Upon spotting Howard around 3:30 a.m., Washington's daughter screamed and grabbed the towel. Howard then fled, Washington said, escaping through the front door. According to court documents, it was the third time in about two weeks that Howard had been trespassing on Washington's property.A few weeks later Howard was apprehended after Peter Hayles, another 225th Street resident, allegedly observed him in his backyard around 1 a.m. It was the third time in about six weeks that Hayles said in an interview that he had seen a man in his backyard and this time he was ready - he grabbed a flashlight and spotted Howard crouching near a window.According to Hayles, he then retrieved a small black pellet gun, which bears a striking resemblance to an actual handgun, from his basement and went outside to chase Howard, who had fled over his fence, through a neighbor's backyard. Hayles said he ran around the block to 224th Street, where he caught Howard coming out of a driveway and pointed his gun at him.Soon several neighbors were on the scene, including Washington and Patricia Gregory, a 224th Street resident who alleged that she had been victimized by Howard several times. It was Gregory, in fact, who began organizing her neighbors about five years ago in an attempt to raise community awareness about Howard and perhaps spur the police to action.Both Washington and Gregory said they were sure Howard was the peeping Tom who had been terrorizing the block for close to a decade."I knew right away and my neighbors did, too," Washington said, expressing relief that the peeping Tom had finally been arrested. "It has been a nightmare."Hayles is also sure that Howard is the guy - the morning after the Sept. 7 incident he found a small wooden footstool in his backyard that he believes belonged to him."He must've been using it to get at the windows," Hayles said.When neighbors learned that the suspect lived, at least part-time, just around the corner, they were not surprised. The revelation, in fact, partially explained how he was able to disappear so quickly when he was confronted, neighbors said.Washington credited the collaboration of her neighbors for Howard's arrest. The neighborhood bonded she said, after Gregory started knocking on doors and telling people there was a peeping Tom to watch out for. Eventually, the neighbors exchanged phone numbers and vowed to keep their eyes open for him."We got together and said 'we're going to catch him,'" Washington said. "I'm sure he'll be locked up because of the collaboration of all of us."
©2006 Community News Group
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